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Missed Miscarriages: Symptoms, Causes, and Coping

Missed Silent Miscarriages: Symptoms, Causes, and Coping

For most couples in Australia, the early pregnancy period is usually full of excitement and hope because a new family member is coming. However, this period can also attract negative feelings like stress and anxiety, mainly for those who previously experienced pregnancy loss.

Pregnancy loss or miscarriage occurs when the fetus stops developing in its mother’s womb. The woman may experience numerous signs like lower abdominal pain and heavy bleeding accompanied by clots. In some cases, however, expectant mothers can have miscarriages without bleeding or experiencing the other typical signs.

What’s this kind of miscarriage, and why does it occur?

How long can a missed miscarriage go unnoticed?
How long can a missed miscarriage go unnoticed?

A missed miscarriage is a form of miscarriage that comes as a complete surprise and occurs unnoticed. To help you understand the basics of silent miscarriage, this blog will share common signs, symptoms, and causes, including what happens after the occurrence.

What’s a silent miscarriage or missed miscarriage?

A silent miscarriage is when a developing fetus stops developing but remains in the mother’s womb. This means the baby isn’t growing, but the mother’s body hasn’t recognized the pregnancy loss. So, the tissues, placenta, and fetus remain in the womb. The placenta often continues to release hormones, so the expectant mother will likely experience the usual signs of pregnancy.

Missed abortions or silent miscarriages occur without apparent signs like pain and bleeding, which shocks the parents. Most women continue carrying the pregnancy until the day they undergo a routine ultrasound scan, only to realize they have already lost the baby.

What are the common signs of missed miscarriage?

As mentioned above, this type of miscarriage isn’t easy to suspect or diagnose since there aren’t any physical symptoms linked to it. Some women do get some minor spotting, but others don’t. And even when it happens, it doesn’t cause suspicion since it is a common early pregnancy sign. So, if you missed the symptoms of a miscarriage like cramping and bleeding, and an ultra-scan shows that your baby isn’t developing, you will have experienced a silent miscarriage.

Although it is normal not to experience the common miscarriage symptoms, you might notice subtle signs such as:

  • Reduced fatigue
  • Minimal nausea feelings
  • Small amounts of red or brown vaginal discharge
  • Decreased breast tenderness

But, a regular loss of the typical pregnancy symptoms shouldn’t be a concern or cause you to feel like you have had a missed miscarriage. With a silent miscarriage, you will feel normal and pregnant until you undergo a pregnancy scan and the results prove you wrong.

What are the causes of a missed miscarriage?

To date, physicians do not know for sure why missed miscarriages occur, and there isn’t a usual clear explanation for why these unfortunate incidences happen. Nonetheless, some common explanations can offer some ideas even though each case may vary. In most cases, there isn’t anything you may have done to affect the outcome.

Some factors that can cause pregnancy loss include infections, physical trauma, and chromosomal abnormalities. You will also lose your pregnancy if you experience a blighted ovum (an embryo gets implanted in the uterus but doesn’t grow into a baby). Chromosomal abnormalities hinder fetus growth and are a common cause of missed miscarriages. These abnormalities aren’t common, so it’s nearly impossible to detect them in advance. If you experience this problem, then a silent miscarriage will likely occur.

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Are missed miscarriages common?

By now, you must be wondering if this type of miscarriage is popular. Statistics show that about 8 to 15% of clinically recognized pregnancies and 30% of all pregnancies do not make it to full term. This is because the baby stops developing before 4 or 5 months of pregnancy. Most miscarriages occur within the first three months of the pregnancy or before the 12th week. Only a small percentage of expectant mothers experience a miscarriage between the 13th and 19th weeks of the pregnancy.

Are these incidences common? There aren’t any conclusive studies showing the number of people who experience pregnancy loss or how often they occur since most happen before many women can know if they are pregnant.

One research estimated that about 3% of the clinically known pregnancies result in missed miscarriages and are mostly discovered during an ultrasound in the first trimester. About 50 to 75% of the pregnancy losses are chemical pregnancies. This is a loss that occurs when the pregnancy ends soon after implantation or before an ultrasound can detect a fetus. Just like the missed miscarriages, the expectant mother might not know that she’s with a child. Besides, the spot bleeding that occurs could be mistaken for the regular monthly period.

When does a missed miscarriage occur?

Missed miscarriages occur early in pregnancy and are mainly known as pregnancy loss occurs within the first five months of gestation without any symptoms. The miscarriages are usually discovered during the first routine scan done in the first trimester between the 11th and 14th weeks. Most pregnant women do not know they have experienced this kind of miscarriage until the physician detects it during the ultrasound scan.

Of all pregnancies, about 3% of them are missed miscarriages. After an early pregnancy ultrasound, it can show that fetal growth wasn’t viable, so signs like bleeding and cramping do not occur to signify pregnancy loss.

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How is the diagnosis of a missed miscarriage made?

Many women who have experienced a silent miscarriage show up for their early pregnancy ultrasound without knowing their fetus isn’t alive. The miscarriage is diagnosed during the routine scan once the doctor notices no fetal heartbeat or the embryo is too tiny for the current pregnancy progression.

Sometimes it might be too early to notice the fetus’s heartbeat at a scan, particularly for women who have longer cycles or don’t know their timing. A doctor can monitor your health condition through bloodwork. This often includes progesterone level testing and hCG tests. You may also need a follow-up scan to determine if the fetus is still growing or have a miscarriage.

After confirming the miscarriage, the doctor will discuss the best treatment solutions to consider depending on your condition. Health care providers can use various treatment methods to remove the embryonic tissue from the body. They’ll ensure you do not experience additional complications like severe bleeding, womb damage, or an infection. After the treatment, your body should heal and be ready to conceive another child.

Available treatments

Some of the treatments your doctor may recommend after an early pregnancy include:

  • Medical management – entails taking a medication that triggers the body to release the embryo tissue.
  • Expectant management – entails waiting for the body to pass the embryonic tissue automatically. This treatment is ideal if the mother doesn’t have infection complications.
  • Surgical management – entails removing the fetus surgically. The dilation and curettage surgery is necessary if the body hasn’t passed the embryonic tissue automatically or the medication doesn’t work.

A healthcare provider will determine the best treatment option and discuss the details. They will also manage your recovery so you do not experience other problems after the treatment. Physically, the body will need several weeks or a few months to recover and return to the normal cycle. However, things don’t work that fast emotionally. Patients need to give themselves as much time as possible to work through their loss. Finding proper emotional support is a fundamental part of the recovery process.

What will happen next if you’d like to conceive again?

When Can I Get Pregnant After Miscarriage?
When Can I Get Pregnant After Miscarriage?

It takes several weeks or months for the body to recover from the missed miscarriage. But, many women still get their period a month later after the incident. If you are trying to conceive after a silent miscarriage, you can try during the first monthly cycle.

A good rule of thumb is to discuss your intentions to conceive with your doctor as early as possible, especially during recovery. This way, your physician will know when to advise you to start trying or hold off. Usually, they will do a series of tests and scans to determine why you had a missed miscarriage. Then, they’ll recommend the best procedure to follow if you want to hold a newborn in your arms.

One mistake women make is to ignore their emotions while recovering from silent miscarriages. Before you consider getting pregnant, it is crucial to recover emotionally too. Getting the diagnosis that you had a missed miscarriage can be shocking. This is especially true if there were no signs, so you might find it difficult to accept the reality. As your body recovers, you will also need to let go of your emotional trauma, even if it means seeking professional help. Remember, you aren’t alone in this. Your doctor can offer information on resources and the help you require to address your feelings.

Most women prefer sharing their feelings with their partners, friends, or family. Another option is to seek help from a miscarriage support organization in your area. Don’t shy away from sharing your experience, as it will be easy to move on, and you might encourage someone else too.

When do silent miscarriages happen?
When do silent miscarriages happen?


Pregnancy loss is a distinctive experience for every woman so letting yourself recover is a fundamental part of your emotional and physical journey. Besides, pregnancy loss is hard to handle emotionally, so do not suffer in silence. Hiding those emotions deep down will only create issues in the future. Make sure you process the experience emotionally and mentally before trying to conceive.

If you have lost an early pregnancy through a missed miscarriage, you should consider accepting your loss and processing it as soon as possible. While it’s true that people process loss differently, you shouldn’t allow yourself to struggle on your own.

You can talk to your spouse, family, and friends for emotional support. Your doctor will offer treatment and manage your recovery so your body can be ready to handle another pregnancy when you are ready. Many women in Australia have managed to have healthy pregnancies even after undergoing silent miscarriages, so do not fret.